I have had several constituents contact me who have been subject to the DWP’s benefit sanctions regime. My experience of dealing with these constituents strengthens my view that the current sanctions regime is unfit for purpose and that it should be halted and reviewed.
This afternoon. I took the opportunity to highlight some of the awful situations that some of my constituents have been placed in as a result of the benefit sanctions regime in a Westminster Hall debate. One constituent on Employment Support Allowance, who was suffering from severe depression, was sanctioned for failing to attend a work-related interview, despite his condition making him too ill to attend the interview. Another constituent lost their Jobseeker’s Allowance for over a year after failing to attend an adviser interview – the constituent was not given written notification of the sanction and was not given details of appeal.
However, the most ludicrous example of the failings of the sanctions regime is my constituent on Universal Credit who, having received a form offer of employment, was still expected to adhere to the Claimant Commitment even though he was due to start employment in the next few weeks. This case was featured in today’s edition of The National. This represents the ultimate failing of the DWP’s regime – people who are actually in work are potentially subject to sanction. I will continue to campaign for the existing sanctions regime to be halted and for a full independent review into sanctions to take place without delay.